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Author Topic: Versu  (Read 11230 times)
axcho

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« on: February 14, 2013, 08:16:09 PM »

Versu is an interactive storytelling platform just released today by Linden Lab:
http://www.versu.com/

Basically, I see it as Chris Crawford's Storytron, except done right. It's a collaboration between IF author Emily Short and AI programmer Richard Evans, combining written stories with sophisticated character and drama AI. Currently it's basically interactive Jane Austen novels (seriously!), but it can encompass any genre of fiction, and more stories (and the tools for making them) are on the way.

You can read Emily Short's description of it here:
http://emshort.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/introducing-versu/

Also an article with some quotes from the Linden Lab CEO Rod Humble here:
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/186262/Linden_Labs_Versu_wants_to_make_hobbyists_storytelling_superstars.php

I first came across this when it was demoed at GDC (before LittleTextPeople was acquired by Linden Lab) and I've been eagerly waiting for it to come out. Unfortunately, right now it's only available for iPad, and I don't have one. Sad But it sounds like it will be coming out for other platforms eventually.

I recently started working at Linden Lab myself, and this project is a big reason why. Can you imagine something more revolutionary being done right now? Cheesy I wasn't sure if I should post about it, but God at Play's enthusiasm for it pushed me over the edge.

So, here we have interactive experiences fueled on storytelling, not gameplay. What do you think? Smiley
« Last Edit: February 14, 2013, 08:51:44 PM by axcho » Logged
God at play

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« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2013, 09:34:29 PM »

Well, obviously I think this is awesome ^_^

And as I said in my YouTube comment, your team over there (including Emily Short) really seems to understand that the best interactive fiction is not like choose-your-own-adventure, which is probably what so many websites covering Versu will want to suggest. And that makes sense, since IF is pretty mature at this point.

Instead, it's like creating the story as you read it, which is much different.

Also, I would like to point out how interesting it would be if the other characters didn't necessarily care a lot about you. A lot of times we want to make the game centered around the player, but when it comes to videogames based on social interactions, I think it can be really believable to not be the focus. Of course this concept has been discussed here before, I just wanted to reiterate.
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axcho

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« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2013, 01:37:11 AM »

Glad you think so too! Cheesy

If only it were "my team" - I'm not cool enough to work on this kind of project at Linden Lab, though it would be nice! I did get to meet Emily Short though. Smiley

Interesting point about creating the story as you read it, instead of just messing around within the confines of someone else's story. It's a cool idea, which brings to mind Sleep Is Death, for one thing. And I'd imagine Versu would be well-suited to stories that don't focus on the player character, though both should be possible.
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Thomas

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« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2013, 07:16:59 AM »

Looks really interesting! Will give it a go over the weekend!

Interesting that it is very close to what Chris Crawford has been after for 20+ years, just simplified. And doing it simplified if the only way I think it will work.

Has anybody given it a go?
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axcho

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« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2013, 08:55:56 PM »

Yeah, I'll be curious to see if Chris Crawford has anything to say about it.

I haven't tried Versu yet, due to my lack of an iPad, but here's a review by someone (another IF author) who did try it:
http://gameshelf.jmac.org/2013/02/the-longer-than-i-expected-versu-post/
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[Chris] Dale

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« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2013, 09:27:50 PM »

I am so humorlessly upset that it is an iPad exclusive. That's like making a painting that only makes sense to color-blind people.
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"Wonder had gone away, and he had forgotten that all life is only a set of pictures in the brain, among which there is no difference betwixt those born of real things and those born of inward dreamings, and no cause to value the one above the other."
--H.P. Lovecraft

Call me Dale Smiley
Michaël Samyn

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« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2013, 10:27:59 AM »

I'm a fan of Richard Evans. But the fact that this is about stories is a turn-off for me. There's a lot of novels out there that I want to read and re-read. I don't feel like wasting my reading time on games.
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[Chris] Dale

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« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2013, 04:36:32 PM »

I'm a fan of Richard Evans. But the fact that this is about stories is a turn-off for me. There's a lot of novels out there that I want to read and re-read. I don't feel like wasting my reading time on games.

I understand your problem; unfortunately the difficulties in generative storytelling are compounded ahundredfold when you try to put any kind of graphical representation into the mix. For the time being, our storyworlds will be IF.
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"Wonder had gone away, and he had forgotten that all life is only a set of pictures in the brain, among which there is no difference betwixt those born of real things and those born of inward dreamings, and no cause to value the one above the other."
--H.P. Lovecraft

Call me Dale Smiley
Thomas

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« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2013, 06:47:38 PM »

Tried it out today. Only tried the intro story and one go at the mystery on. First impression is: shallow and slightly chaotic.

While it is well written and all, it just gets messy really really fast. The problem is that with all this complexity comes the annoyance when the game does not work as you wish it to, or lack the options you want to pursue. It is really cool that NPCs start speaking without you being around, and just making being able to create a story by dumping a few characters in a situation is awesome. The outcome does not feel very engaging to me though. It seems to confirm my own thinking that complexity just makes the overall narrative experience worse.

This game is designed to be played many times and even feature achievements for getting certain results in the story. Of course this would not be possible in a fixed narrative. So in order to really to get something from this system, you need to play multiple times. Problem is that when the individual rounds do not come off as very fun on their own, it is hard for me to play it more just to see the capabilities with the system.

I sort of think that the writing almost comes in the way. It would be more fun to have it more abstracted and just let it be a Victorian Social Life Simulator. That way my rounds would be simpler and it would be an outcome driven experience, instead of an experience that is mostly about reading.

As I said I have only played it once though, and probably need to give it a few more goes before getting a really clear picture. I do doubt the basic outline of the above will change. Having said that, since it is free I think everybody needs to give it a go.
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Michaël Samyn

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« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2013, 12:31:57 PM »

It would be more fun to have it more abstracted and just let it be a Victorian Social Life Simulator.

Yes! I want one!
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AADA7A

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« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2013, 02:01:20 PM »

This being Emily Short has its pluses and downsides: Emily Short is good at this sort of this, but the historical themes zie focuses on in hir games is probably the one I hate the most -- victorian society, upperclass blabla. Anyway, looking forward to it since nothing much happened with Varytale since Emily Short published hir gamenovel "Bee" there.
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